Almost Real´s Jaguar XJ6 has come as a pleasant surprise. Almost Real did not bother to announce it beforehand, previously having experienced many angry reactions for delays or cancellations of highly anticipated models they had announced in their early years. Their first release is this black version, or ebony as the Jaguar sales brochures from back in its day preferred to call it, with at least a green exterior and probably many others to follow.
If the big cat appears somewhat large, e.g. in comparison to Cult Scale´s XJR replicating the preceding XJ series, it is not AR being amiss in terms of scale. Jaguar´s flagship had indeed grown considerably over its predecessors while trying to retain its traditional sleek overall shape to compete with German luxury brands. So for purists, the last true XJ was the X300 series, not this X350, while for others, including myself, this is the last true XJ before the exterior changed radically, which in return was welcomed by those who considered it an old man´s car in its traditional shape, only ever so slightly altered over the XJ´s history since Series 1 entered the stage in the 1960s.
One of the alterations, the front indicators now being incorporated into the outside of the double headlights instead of being separate has been replicated by Almost Real extremely well. Lights have always been a strong point in Almost Real´s models and the rear lights heralding modern-day LED-fication are no exception either, with red and clear lense sections sharply separate and again tiny amber bulbs behind the clear lenses and the package framed delicately in a chrome housing. Brilliant!
Of course, the Leaper hood ornament is a great, nicely detailed feature, previously only replicated on Model Icon´s debut, the Jaguar Mark 2. The door mirrors in body colour point towards an early XJ of its generation, but the ugly thin planks on its flanks along the doors (thankfully) missing make it a later car. That, however, would require the mirrors to be chromed – at least to represent a Continental European spec. Body colour on the mirrors would either be the XJR trim or the optional de-chrome package, but would then inevitably come in conjunction with the XJR´s body-colour-framed mesh grille and all the other chrome dropped that this model so admirably features. So that is the first hint towards something of a mystery spec.
The mystery continues with the excellently replicated 18” “Rapier”-rims, sadly still wrapped in unbranded tires but including valves. According to brochures, from new these rims were only available on the Super V8, which was a long wheelbase, and the model is a long wheelbase, but not a V8, bearing a nicely replicated XJ6 badge on the boot lid and thereby announcing a six-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet.
Open the bonnet with its superb hinge work that opens the boot too and you will find exactly that engine, again very nicely detailed and adorned with OEM stickers. This model does clearly not suffer from the shallow engine syndrome. Beautiful, but still a bit of an odd choice as models usually tend to replicate a car´s highest spec. In the US market only the V8-powered XJs were ever sold, not this smallest 3-litre-petrol-engine-option. So this completely rules out a North American specification.
The interior, as to be expected, again ticks all the higher trim boxes: Almost Real has aptly chosen the classy Ivory/Mocha colour scheme, when using the Charcoal option would have been so much easier, because that would very simply have been a rather dull black. We know, some competitors disappoint by just doing that. Not so Almost Real who have made themselves a household name for luxury limos and their interiors: “Mocha” means that the fabric seat belts, the dash top, door sills and on later cars seat piping are brown. But the latter again adds to the mystery: the model features the seats in soft grain ruched leather aka “Super V8 seats”, but without the contrast piping that later cars would have had. Further adding wonderfully to the high spec interior is the burr walnut/leather steering wheel and gear lever, when lower spec cars would have had these in leather and the wood trim only in all the other places where the model displays them. The wood pattern and detailing of the speakers and all the tiny switches and buttons are all just lovely.
None of the specifications on this model are wrong in themselves, but the combination is confusing: The V6 engine excludes a US-market Jaguar XJ as these were exclusively powered by V8 engines. In Europe, an XJ would be sold with the 3.0 V6 petrol engine, but some higher spec features on the model would have only been available in combination with a V8 engine. As replicated here, Almost Real´s model is most likely a China market specification where a top trim-line tends to be combined with the smallest engine. The number plate format further points in that direction. It is neither European nor North American. Almost Real might deliberately have left themselves some options for future releases like the XJR, albeit changes are required then: a V8 engine, a body-coloured mesh grille radiator, and the “R Performance” seats.
Almost Real seems to have cleverly picked up the XJ theme, starting by completing any existing collection of XJ generations replicated in scale 1:18 before (Series 1, Series 2 XJC, Series 3, XJ40 and X300, most of them in sealed resin, though) by adding this never previously done X350 generation and then working their way backwards through Jaguar´s history. The Bejing fair photos, for example, clearly show the XJ40 generation and I personally wouldn´t mind them continuing on that theme in their usual exquisite way with no QC issues on this model at all. And very fairly, Almost Real keeps these reasonably priced for what you get. The rather irritating price difference of up to 100 Euros between offers in China, North America and Europe is none of AR´s fault, I suppose.